All the main parties are still searching for candidates
A total of 75 MPs have so far announced their intention to stand down at the 2015 general election. With a little over four months to go until the formal start of the election campaign, you’d have thought parties would have been scrambling to find replacement candidates. Not so. There are still a number of high profile seats with vacancies. Here’s a selection.
Dudley South: Chris Kelly unexpectedly announced his decision in August 2014 to stand down as MP for this seat. It’s a marginal and the sort of constituency Labour needs to win if it has any chance of forming the next government. Kelly’s departure has probably made it more likely to change hands; his majority in 2010 was just 3,856 in 2010. The Tories have certainly taken their time finding a successor. They decided to hold a “primary” ballot to assemble a shortlist, from which a winner is scheduled to be chosen at a meeting on 26 November. Whoever he or she is, they will have a tough fight; Labour’s candidate has been in place since July 2013.
Clacton: Who will the Tories pick to take on Douglas Carswell a second time? I can’t imagine there will be many takers. But a candidate must be found and time is running out.
Braintree: A replacement for Brooks Newmark does not appear to be likely any time soon. Newmark won a very comfortable majority of 16,121 in 2010, but this Essex seat is just the kind of place Ukip will be hoping to make a impact. The new Tory candidate will have their work cut out establishing their profile while simultaneously seeing off the opposition. Picking a well-known local name seems the obvious, and perhaps only, solution.
Holborn and St Pancras: A list of no fewer than 24 names is awaiting the attention of the Labour party selection panel in Frank Dobson’s constituency. This is not a seat Labour is in any danger of losing at the election, but it’s been four months since Dobson announced his intention to stand down and somebody has been dragging their feet.
Bradford West: I’ve written already of my bafflement at the ongoing shenanigans in this seat. Suffice to say Labour has still not named its candidate – nor has George Galloway revealed whether he intends to stand again for Respect.
Edinburgh South West: This is Alastair Darling’s constituency, in which he won a majority of 8,447 in 2010. Darling’s recently-announced departure will have buoyed the SNP’s hopes of snatching the seat, but the party polled only 12.2% of the vote in 2010. Edinburgh is not traditional SNP territory, though whoever is chosen as Darling’s successor will want to take nothing for granted in what could be a feisty contest.
Taunton Deane: The person to inherit Jeremy Browne’s tough task of defending a 3,993 majority in this top Tory target has yet to be picked. The Lib Dems really need to get a move on. Each day that passes is one less day for the party to establish the profile of its new candidate and one more day for their opponents to enjoy a clear field.